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East Side, West Side

D.C.'s public school teachers have a lot to complain about: disrespectful students, checked-out parents, clueless administrators. It turns out they give pretty high marks to one group....themselves.

That's one of the findings in a survey of 3,200 school employees conducted jointly by the school administration and the Washington Teachers Union. It was actually completed last winter, but this summer's debate over a new salary structure and labor contract prompted D.C. Wire to go back and have a look. Here are some of the findings gleaned by The Post's Dan Keating:

As a group, teachers had lower overall satisfaction, compared with administrators and clerical staff. But they strongly agreed with positive statements about themselves, such as "Teachers set high standards for themselves" or "take responsibility for improving their schools."

Teachers in elementary or middle schools tend to be happier than high school faculty, and those in schools east of Rock Creek Park are generally less content than colleagues in wealthier neighborhoods on the west side.

Measuring "overall satisfaction" on a scale of one to four, surveyors found that Key and Janney elementary in Northwest and Brookland and Langdon elementary in Northeast were the happiest schools, with an average score of 3.3. Ron Brown Middle School in Northeast and Shaw and Deal junior highs in Northwest won the highest staff ratings among secondary schools, giving themselves a 3.0. Banneker and Bell led high schools, at 2.8 and 2.7 respectively.

The survey also gauged staff contentment before and after Michelle Rhee's appointment as chancellor. Twenty four schools, including Stoddert Elementary and Deal, are a lot happier in the Rhee era. On the other hand, 24 schools liked life better before she came to town. Draper Elementary in Southeast and Ross Elementary in Northwest show the steepest dips in satisfaction.

The findings were limited by poor participation. Only 55 percent of school system employees participated. Forty-two schools did not have a survey published because less than half of the staff answered the questionnaire.

Bill Turque

By Marcia Davis  |  August 15, 2008; 8:37 AM ET
Categories:  Bill Turque , Education  
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